The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO have both endorsed the bipartisan immigration reform proposal being outlined today, suggesting a new alliance between business and labor.
In 2007, the major union federation and the business lobby split over a guest worker program that the AFL-CIO deemed exploitative.
The Chamber has long advocated for guest worker programs, reflecting the demand for immigrant labor in many industries. The group’s support for immigration reform has created friction with the Republican leadership in the past. Unions have made immigration reform a top priority, hoping to help low-wage workers and make inroads in growing labor markets. The groups leaders met recently to discuss working together on immigration reform.
“We strongly support the outline for immigration reform issued by the bipartisan group of Senators,” Chamber President Tom Donahue said. “We know that many details will need to be worked out, but we are very encouraged by this framework for reform and look forward to helping advance comprehensive immigration legislation and build public support.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was a bit more cautious. “Much remains to be seen” on the path to citizenship in the deal, he said, citing concerns over proof of employment. But he called the framework “an important and long overdue first step.”